This is the era of social media. Facebook is full of people posting about the meal they just ate or the workout they just did; it is full of people sharing their lives online, bragging, complaining or sharing information and opinions about this that and the other. There are countless of other social media platforms from Pinterest and Snapchat, to Twitter, LinkedIn, Periscope, and Tumblr. The list goes on and on, but of course I couldn’t title this blog with a hashtag without talking about yet the great social media platform called Instagram.
I enjoy Instagram, personally, and have found it very helpful to the yoga community. If you simply search #yoga, you will be able to view 29,692,173 posts! Search #yogaeverydamnday, and 8,449,665 posts will come up. Try searching #yogaeverywhere, and you will see another whopping 2,636,549 posts. These are incredible numbers, and they don’t even begin to scratch the surface of how many other billions of yoga posts are on Instagram.
Instagram has become a vehicle for the inspiration and education of yoga. I follow numerous of yoga teachers on this platform and usually there is some sort of yoga challenge being promoted by at least one of them daily. With each challenge comes instructions about an asana (pose). The teacher usually provides various insight on how to prepare the body for a particular pose. For example, if you’re trying to learn handstand, which is very common (there are 2,793,088 #handstand and #adhomukhavrksasana posts combined), a teacher may offer different exercises to train for the strength needed to do this pose. They may also offer tips or personal anecdotes to help guide you on how to practice this pose safely and successfully.
If yogis are not posting about challenges, they are posting positive and encouraging words, as well as a kick ass photo of them doing yoga somewhere. It is impressive to see some of my favorite teachers performing different asanas in sand or snow, in high heels and dresses. Many yoga practitioners and teachers use Instagram to show their growth and progress, motivating others to do the same. In addition, they emphasize that you can’t just do a press handstand or one-legged king pigeon pose without diligent and consistent practice. These teachers were all where you are at one point–they are not super humans even though they may look like it sometimes! Each of them are living proof of what the practice can do for you if you commit to it and yourself.
Yoga is highly respected and, in my opinion, accurately expressed through Instagram. Beneath the surface of all the fancy circus tricks, the message is the same—yoga is a process. Yoga is humbling and honest. Yoga is not about the pose, but the journey to the pose. Yoga is self-discipline and a great teacher itself. Each message is the interpretation of the person who practices and teaches, but each message hold much merit and validates what yoga has done for and means to them.
It is mind blowing to think that Patajali wrote the yoga sutras over a thousand years ago and now his theories are reaching billions of people everyday through cellphones and computers. No one could have predicted it, but here we are, in 2017, hashtagging and sharing the sacred practice of yoga through our fingertips.
If you take a moment to search various facets of yoga like #ahimsa, #Patanjali, #eightlimbs, #sadhana, and #yogateachertraining, you will see at least hundreds of different photos about these topics. This shows how popular and accessible yoga is now for everyone. It is not just for the yogi in the cave anymore, nor the super flexible woman or super strong man. No matter who you are or where you begin, yoga has the power to transform your life, both physically and spiritually. Yoga is a great gift to humankind, and now social media, too, is another great gift that allows people to share, to teach and to learn from. The Instagram yoga community is kind and accepting, inspiring and loving, which is a solid foundation for others to explore the practice with unlimited support. What are you waiting for? Log on to Instagram and start searching hashtags and hashtagging what yoga looks like and means to you. And while you’re at it, hashtag Shree Hari Yoga too!
What are some of your favorite yoga hashtags?!